I know there are lots of places in Bristol to eat that I haven’t been to, but sometimes it’s nice to find places and go and eat there that you didn’t know about.
Having climbed the Christmas Steps, Bristol’s very own Diagon Alley, and visiting the most excellent gin and whisky shop, the person behind the counter recommended a little French place on Colston Street called Le Poivrot.
It looked really nice from the outside and going through the door we were given a warm welcome from the staff.
The lunch menu was limited, but for me this was a good thing, I would rather have a smaller choice, but made with more care and better quality ingredients and tastier results.
I was tempted by the soup, but in the end went with a sandwich, not just any old sandwich, but the Le Poivrot Sandwich.
Comprising an artisan baguette filled with saucisson, gruyere, cornichons, and mustard. The bread was lovely and fresh, great snappy crust with a soft fluffy crumb. The filling was a nice combination of sharp and salty flavours.
The service was excellent. I will certainly be going again.
If I have a big meal in the middle of the day then in the evening I usually happy to have a sandwich.
But if I am going to have a sandwich and I have the ingredients and the time then I don’t want a ham sandwich made from ‘plastic’ white bread!
Without sounding too much like a Marks and Spencers advert, I want a sandwich made from freshly baked ciabatta bread, a thin spread of unsalted butter, filled with fresh rocket leaves, thin slices of milano salami and a dash of mayonnaise…
I was on my way to catch a train when I stopped off at my local Costa for a coffee and a sandwich.
The coffee was a Flat White, well it was nearly a Flat White, well one can live in hope!
As for the sandwich, it was a chicken salad sandwich on malted brown bread.
So what did I think?
Well it was a chicken salad sandwich and there isn’t much more to say.
The most flavoursome part of the sandwich was the bread. The chicken was cooked processed chicken, so tasted like chicken, well as in tasted of very little. The salad was mainly bland tomatoes and iceberg lettuce. There was some mayo which overpowered the chicken and salad, though you could still taste the bread. There was texture, as the salad was crisp, but I would have preferred a more soggy sandwich with lots of flavour.
The problem with mass produced sandwiches is that they are catering for the mass audience. The mainstream want something like this sandwich and in many ways prefer a bland sandwich over one with flavour. I remember watching a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall programme a few years ago on chicken and he did a taste test between organic free range chicken and a supermarket battery chicken. Interestingly most people preferred the supermarket chicken. The organic one had “too much” flavour.
We as a society have got so use to bland chicken that we now prefer bland chicken. ask yourself do you prefer breast or thighs? Chicken breast has a lot less flavour than the thighs, but most people prefer breast.
As a result of this, I get a rather tasteless chicken sandwich rather than one bursting with flavour.
The Dockyard Café Bar is located alongside Brunel’s SS Great Britain and offers superb views on to the ship as well as across Bristol’s historic floating harbour.
Enjoy delicious light meals, snacks and drinks throughout the day; soak up the atmosphere on the waterfront terrace or inside literally watching the world sail by.
On offer daily are delicious soups, special dishes, Italian-style paninis and sandwiches freshly prepared on the premises.
Okay that’s the marketing spiel, what was the reality like?
The place is really quite nice and despite the fact it was a hot day, it was very cool inside. You could have chosen to sit outside if you wanted to.
It’s nice and open inside with lots of space, so it never feels crowded.
That’s the good stuff, however overall it was a bit of a disappointment.
First service, we sat inside and went to the counter to order… Despite there been about six or seven staff at front of house, only two seemed to be working! They had two staff who were taking orders, money, making the drinks and getting the orders together. Moving around these two were other staff who seemed to be doing nothing more than getting in the way.
There was quite a queue and as a result quite a wait to get served. It would have made more sense to me to use some of the staff to speed up the service.
Secondly the quality of the food was quite poor.
I was going to get a coffee, however the cups seemed very small, and though I don’t mind small portions of coffee, these were very much on the small side – like large espresso cups! So I went for a diet coke and it came in a glass bottle which is nice and I much prefer this over the post-mix you usually find in these kind of places.
I ordered sandwiches, a child’s meal and some chips.
The sandwiches were taken from the fridge, whilst we had to wait for the children’s meal.
These were not cheap at £3.50 each and were of a very poor standard. They tasted as though they were made with yesterday’s bread. Now that could be because they were made with yesterday’s bread, or had been left out for too long. Whatever the reason the bread did not taste fresh. Now if I make a sandwich from yesterday’s bread at home, that’s my choice, however when I go out to a cafe I expect my sandwich to be made with fresh bread.
The fillings were not generous, whilst the salad (if you can call five leaves and a slice of tomato a salad) looked as though it had seen better days.
It felt as though the manager doesn’t have children or understand that children don’t always like waiting, and like waiting even less if mum and dad have their food.
Though I felt overpriced, the children’s meal, at least the sandwich was fresh, though not quite sure what the balloon was doing in there!
So could they mess up the chips?
Yes they could.
They double-cooked them!
Basically the chips were cooked twice, so at some point the chips were cooked, left, and then when I placed my order, they were cooked again.
Overall I liked the ambience and the environment, however the food was plainly awful. I am glad I didn’t try the cooked meals.
This place has the potential to be so much better and I hope it can improve. Key steps are, use fresh ingredients and cook to order.
They should create and deliver a menu which reflects the legacy of Brunel and the SS Great Britain.
I really like Café Rouge, I have had nice meals there in Brighton and Bath, so when I was in Cardiff recently I stopped to get a coffee and a snack.
I ordered a baguette with fries and a coffee.
Well I was disappointed, the baguette sandwich was fine and what I was expecting, however the fries were so very salty. I have never understood why some places insist on salting their fries (or chips) before serving them to the customer. Are people getting so lazy now that even if they want salt on their fries they couldn’t be bothered to do it themselves and let the restaurant or café do it for them. Even so in this instance there seemed to be a about three days of your recommended daily allowance on a pathetically small portion of fries in Café Rouge. I had to send them back, and though the waitress seemed to indicate that was how they came, I did manage to get unsalted fries. I got the impression that the fries I had before *may* have been secondhand or from the bottom of a badly salted batch.
I don’t like a lot of salt on my food (I never add it myself to my food or my cooking) so when I get something which is heavily salted in a restaurant I can’t eat it. Sometimes I remember to ask, but usually I forget.
So apart from the very very salty fries, what else did I not like about Café Rouge in Cardiff, well, the sausage in my baguette was overcooked and slightly burnt in places, I am guess they meant chargrilled, but it was more charred than grilled.
Another thing, the service was very very intrusive. I really wanted to be left alone to enjoy my meal, but the waitress kept coming up to me to see if I wanted this, or wanted that, or was it okay, etc… I had only just put my fork down on my empty plate and she was there ready to take it away.
Please give me a little time…
Also it took ages for my order to arrive in the first place (so I did get my time then, but she was always there…). It wasn’t as though the place was really busy, six of us all together I think, and the others were either about to leave or had their food on their table. There were about six waiting staff, there may have been more, but I think they needed more staff in the kitchens.
Overall I was disappointed with the food and the service, I know Café Rouge is a chain, but in this case the Cardiff branch was a real disappointment. I will probably go to the one in Bath again, but Cardiff, well there are plenty of other places to eat in the vicinity and the tapas place looked interesting.